Hospital Bag Essentials for New Moms

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My little girl made an early entrance into this world and I did not have a hospital bag ready for when I went to the birth center at the hospital.  Thankfully, my husband and my sister came to the rescue with everything I needed for what ended up being a 2 week stay with both bed rest and my daughter in the special care nursery.  Comfy pjs and my body pillow from home made sleeping in a hospital bed much more comfortable.  The hospital provided all of the basics, but it was really nice having some of the comforts of home as well as my own toiletries.

Some of the beauty products that I was so thankful to have with me include:

–  Dr. Bronner’s Soap

–  Pureology Shampoo

–  MARIA ÅKERBERG Baby Oil

–  MARIA ÅKERBERG Lip Care Vanilla

–  MARIA ÅKERBERG Cleansing Cream

–  Burt’s Bees Cleansing Cloths

–  Kores Tinted Moisturizer and Undereye Concealer

Adjust Your Winter Skin Care Routine

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As the weather continues to get colder, it is even more important to pay attention to your skin’s needs.  Dehydration and chapped lips can be kept away by choosing products that can better protect you from the cold.  It is a good idea to use an organic product line that is free of harsh chemicals and preservatives that can be damaging to your skin.  At Balans, we use MARIA ÅKERBERG Deepskin Organics from Sweden.

Hydration is essential for a healthy complexion.  Due to dropping temperatures outside and having to crank the heat indoors, many people experience flaky skin and dry lips in the Winter.  This time of year, it is helpful to use a thicker moisturizer.   For sensitive and dry skin try Face Protection by MARIA ÅKERBERG.  It contains chamomile which is soothing and can help heal dry patches.  They also have an amazing vanilla lip balm that helps keep lips soft and supple, Lip Care Vanilla.

If you are not already using facial oils, balms and masks, now is the time to start!  Facial oils help maintain balance and restore your skin’s natural production of oil.  Balms also deliver the healing properties of essential oils to treat your skin but are thick so I prefer to use them at night.  Masks are also a great way to deliver healing ingredients directly to your skin.  There are many to choose from, so look for ones high in antioxidants.  Some products from this line that work particularly well during winter months are Olive Cleansing, Royal Facial Oil Rose,  Face Balm Neroli and their Eye Balm.

These products can be purchased in the online store at http://www.bostonbalans.com, or you can call Balans at 617-450-8333 to schedule a facial and I will customize a routine for you.

6 Waxing Tips for Flawless Hair Removal

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6 Waxing Tips for Flawless Hair Removal:

1. Hair needs to be long enough to wax. It should be long enough that it does not stick strait up and lays flat against your skin. For brows, this means that if you can’t grab it with tweezers, the wax won’t be able to stick to it either. Let those hairs grow out at least 2 weeks. For waxing other areas of the body like legs or the bikini area, the grow out phase will be 3-4 weeks, especially if you have been shaving.

2. Wax likes clean skin. While makeup won’t necessarily interfere with a brow or lip wax, body lotions will prevent wax from sticking to other parts of your body. I recommend exfoliating in the shower prior to your appointment and not applying moisturizer or any numbing cream before you come in.

3. The more frequently you wax, the less it will hurt. Waxing monthly is ideal. This is because when you pull hair out at the root, a new hair has to grow in the follicle. Young hairs have shallow roots and lift easily. The longer the root has been growing, the thicker, deeper and more difficult it is to pull out.

4. Timing is everything. The best time to schedule a Brazilian bikini wax is the week after your period. This has to do with your hormone levels. It will hurt the least if you come in that week.

5. Give your skin time to rest immediately after getting waxed. Many clients want to put makeup on right after getting their brows waxed, but I encourage them to wait an hour or at least until the redness goes away before applying eyeshadow. You don’t want to irritate freshly waxed skin. This goes for body waxing as well. No one should be going to a spinning class immediately following a leg or bikini wax!

6. In the weeks following a wax, be sure to exfoliate and moisturize. This will keep your skin smooth and prevent ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs are caused by dry skin covering the follicle.

The Dangerous Truth About Cosmetic Ingredients: What’s Really in Your Makeup Bag?

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The other day, I was having tea with my good friend, Megan Graham of Megan Graham Beauty on Newbury Street and she asked me what kind of makeup I use. At first I thought this was just simple girl talk, but then she explained that she was concerned about the chemicals in the products she was currently using. The truth is that since leaving my salon job a year and a half ago to join the wellness team at Balans, I really haven’t been using much! That need to “put my face on” is not as strong for me these days as it was for me during those years at the hair salon. I am glad that she asked me because now, more than ever, I am aware now of my environmental footprint and what ingredients I use on my body. Since working with the line MARIA ÅKERBERG Deepskin Organics, I have learned a lot about how important sourcing of ingredients is. This definitely applies to skincare products, but perhaps even more so for makeup. There are a myriad of nasty chemicals lurking in most popular cosmetic brands.

I have compiled a list of 5 of the most dangerous ingredients:

Benzyl Peroxide, Parabens, Sulfates, Silicone and Mineral Oil.

1.  Benzyl Peroxide– This is a popular ingredient in many acne products despite being and eye, skin and respiratory irritant.  It produces DNA damage and may act as a mutagen.

2.  Parabens–  These are highly regulated in Europe because there is evidence that they interfere with hormone function and are endocrine disruptors.  They are widely used in the USA, and other parts of the world as preservatives even though they are known to be toxic.  You may be surprised by how many products you already have contain parabens.  Look out for methylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben and ethylparaben.

3.  Sulfates–  This ingredient is found in everything from car wash, to personal care products, especially shampoo.  Although a known irritant, it is widely used to make products foam. Look out for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). 

4.  Silicone– This ingredient is derived from Silica (sand) that has been chemically processed.  In Europe it is classified as an endocrine disruptor. This is a popular ingredient in eye shadows, eye liners, liquid foundation, lipstick and powders used to increase water resistance and to make it spread easier.  Look out for dimethicone and siloxanes.  

5.  Mineral Oil– This ingredient is derived from petroleum just like motor oil and interferes with the body’s natural ability to breathe and release toxins. It is used in many creams and personal care products.  Sadly, Baby Oil is 100% Mineral Oil.  Stop using it!  it is no good for you or your baby.  Besides clogging your pores, it is also linked to Cancer.    

DIY Face Mask

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It’s that time of year when the holidays take us by storm.  With plenty of family obligations and less time than we would like to meet them, it is important to take care of yourself.   What is your skin’s defense against the stress of the holidays?    I recommend taking a few minutes just for YOU to relax and do an at-home facial treatment.   This is an easy DIY face mask that uses ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen.

Exfoliating Pumpkin Face Mask:

1 Tbs. honey

1 Tbs. coconut oil

3 walnut halves -( crush them until they are almost a powder)

1/2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs. pumpkin puree*

*If you are not a fan of pumpkin, you can substitute 1/2 of an avocado.

Take all of the ingredients and mix them.  That’s it.  You are done.  Now, simply take 10 minutes to lay down and relax with this mask on your face.   This anti-aging mask works wonders because it is naturally high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Zinc.  It is also hydrating, brightening and has anti-bacterial properties that will help clear acne.

Best Waxing in Boston

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What’s the best new trend in waxing to get done in Boston? You may be thinking it’s the Brazilian or the Eyebrow Wax… but I’m going to tell you that it’s the Arm Wax. You may not have ever even thought of waxing your arms before, but once you do, it becomes almost routine. Your skin will feel and look amazing. Waxing removes the hair from the root so you are left with soft and smooth skin for weeks.

What other areas are popular to get waxed? While facial waxing of one’s eyebrows, lip and chin remains the most common waxing, more and more clients are opting to go hair free all over. For example, the Brazilian Wax has skyrocketed into popularity in the past several years. I do not offer that service for men, however, Eyebrows, Chest, Back and Shoulders are popular areas for men to wax.

AWARDS

2012 “Boson’s Best” for Waxing by the Improper Bostonian

2011 “Best of Citysearch” with Beaucage

2010 “The Boston A List” by WGBH with Beaucage

2008 “Best of Boston” for Waxing by Boston Magazine

What is a Facial?

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Getting a facial for the first time can seem overwhelming. What kind should you get? What should you do to prepare? How long does it take? What are extractions? Will it hurt? Might I break out afterwards? These are all questions that may be running through your head as you decide to book an appointment. Relax. This is YOU time. A facial is your time to evaluate what products are working for you right now. Just like you put away your summer clothes and edited your closet for Fall, use this as an opportunity to edit your beauty routine. Rest assured that any questions you have about your complexion or what to use on your face will be answered.

There is a type of facial for everyone. The facials we offer at Balans are Traditional Swedish, Deep Pore Cleansing, Hydrating & Nourishing and Anti-Aging. We use the Sonya Dakar product line because it combines the best that science and nature have to offer. The steps to a facial include cleansing, exfoliating, massage of the face, neck and shoulders, steam, extractions and a mask suited for your skin type. The products used in each of the different types of facials have different types of botanical extracts in them to meet the needs of any skin type. If you are not sure which facial is the best for your skin, schedule a Traditional facial and discuss the other options when you arrive for the treatment.

Still worried about the extractions? Don’t be. Let me start by saying that the benefit you will see with healthy glowing skin is worth a moment of pain during the extractions. Hot steam and an exfoliant open the pores and prep your skin for extractions. During an extraction, the esthetician removes white heads and blackheads from the skin using fingers wrapped in cotton. Expect a little pinch. Your newly unclogged pores will thank you. After a facial you may be red for a little while, but it is similar to the redness you’d get after you go running because it’s from having a healthy blood flow to the surface of the skin. I call it a healthy glow. Get your glow on, and try a facial!

Smashbox Mascara Review

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Product Review:

Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara:

Love it. If you’re looking for a mascara that goes on quickly with no messy clumps, this is the one for you. I first recieved this product as a sample from Sephora. I have been using it daily and love it. Because of the shape of the brush, it lifts and separates each lash making it easy to use at home or on the go. As an Esthetician and Make-up Artist, I value this product’s ability to stay on long into night. It is easily removed with makeup remover and will even come off with just face wash.

Healthy lifestyle = Beautiful skin

Healthy lifestyle = Beautiful skin

I love what celebrity skincare expert, Sonya Dakar, said about the importance of working with your esthetician on creating a skincare routine that truly works for you.

“We call it bootcamp- it’s a fitness. I compare it to the gym. If you work on it, you sweat, you have a great body. If you work on your skin, you achieve beautiful, healthy skin.”

This idea of looking at your behavior in order to get to the root of your skin’s needs, gets results that last. If you want brighter and more glowing skin, it is crucial that you have a diet filled with the proper nutrients that your body needs to function. Similarly, if you want to build muscle, you would eat certain foods. Many of us lead a busy life, but it is still important to detoxify your body often and maintain your level of stress. When the body becomes acidic, due to stress or poor diet, you feel tired, bloated, and anxious. This often shows up on the skin as breakouts, dry patches, and sensitivity.

Getting your body moving, eating well, and regular beauty routines will make you look and feel better. Yoga, pilates, cardio, and strength training are great ways to build a strong core. These activities will improve the elasticity of the skin all over your entire body. Foods rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C also improve the look and elasticity of your skin. Some foods to incorporate into your diet are dark leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers, berries, and lemons.

Your skin is your largest organ and it can absorb nutrients topically. The Berry Mask from Soyna Dakar is one of my favorite anti-aging facial products. It not only smells good but delivers antioxidants directly to your skin. It meets eco-friendly principles and is free of parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, artificial fragrances and dyes. It is important to choose beauty products wisely- the ingredients in a product matter.

This is why I believe that a healthy lifestyle equals beautiful skin. At Balans, we can help you achieve this balance. We take the guess work out by offering services that address every every aspect of designing a healthy and workable lifestyle.